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Playing through the holidays

Playing through the holidays

Play is fun there’s no doubt about that.

Play is also about learning and it’s something children do naturally to learn about their world, about life, about being a friend, being in a family, being a daughter or a son.

When your children are interacting with others, they’re learning a myriad of social skills too–how to get along with others, give and take, sharing, taking turns, compromise, cooperation and negotiation.

They’re also learning what interests them, they’re learning decision making skills and they’re learning emotional regulation.

Play is an inborn drive in your children. Dr. Peter Gray, psychologist, researcher, and author on the topic of play states, “social play makes children happy, and its absence makes them unhappy.”

We’re social beings and getting along with others, family and friends, is what makes for a happier life.  There is no more compelling reason than this to make sure we give our children access and time with us, their siblings, cousins and friends, to just play.

And there’s no better time than the holidays for playing. We gather together with family and friends. We have the time off work. Kids are off school.

So how can you encourage and support happy and healthy play this holiday season?

Make time for play. As parents you make the plans, you create the schedule. Make sure there is as much downtime as possible for play.

Your participation.  When playing with your child let them take the lead. Let your kids come up with the ideas of what to play and how to play. This is true even when playing with your toddlers and preschoolers. Relax, be interested, tap into your own playful instincts and enjoy the activities they choose.

Create a play space. Create a safe space where your kids are free to play and explore as they wish. Fill the space with games, crafts, and open-ended materials that can be used in different ways. Encourage your children to use their imagination.

Encourage mistakes. Let your children play ‘their way’. As adults it’s hard for us not to take over. We feel like we know the best way to do things and how to avoid mistakes. Let mistakes be part of the process. There’s a lot of value in a conversation following a mistake for reevaluating, and problem-solving.

Step back for play with others. Your children know how to play so trust them to do it! Give your little ones the time. space, freedom and permission they need to explore their world through playing alone, with siblings, cousins and friends. Support their play as needed, but also let the kids be.

Play should be enjoyable for everyone. When its no longer fun teach your kids that is the time to stop or change it up. They’ll need to decide what to do next. Is it time for another game or some independent time playing alone? Keeping going when it’s not fun is a recipe for disaster. Your toddlers and preschoolers may need your guidance here.

Besides the fact your children want to play, play is a powerful teaching and learning tool. Time spent having fun and playing with your kids and your kids playing with family is the best way to connect, strengthen relationships, and make fun memories.

More than that, (as if that’s not reason and benefit enough for play)providing your kids with ample opportunities for play this holiday season will provide so much more than fun and bonding. Play will allow them to relax and let off steam – and we could all use that this busy holiday time. Could playing more be your secret too for less stress and more relax?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, confused, or frustrated with parenting or your kids behavior and you want a safe place to talk about your challenges without feeling judged or criticized, I can help.

Contact me to schedule a free phone conversation to see if my coaching is right for you and your family. You can email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Your child’s potential is limitless. Their success begins with you.

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Heart of Connecting

My work is dedicated to supporting parents and early childhood educators in understanding and reducing challenging behavior in young children at home and in the preschool classroom.

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